May. 19th, 2014 07:50 pm
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So I watched several movies in the last several months! This is… very odd. (I've apparently lost the ability to sit through a movie, so I hardly ever watch any anymore.)

Avengers, Frozen, Veronica Mars )
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I was expecting to think it was overwrought and enjoy it principally for its potential for mockery (and, mind you, there was some of that) but... but... it had two things going for it. One is that the people who made the movie clearly, clearly, loved the musical and the book, and for that I adore them SO MUCH. The other thing that it had going for it was that despite all the cynicism and judgmentalness and analytic distance I've built up since I saw Les Mis for the first time, as soon as the first orchestral notes boomed in I was grinning like a maniac, a large part of me instantly reverted RIGHT BACK to twelve-year-old OMG I AM IN LOVE. So, um. Loved the movie!

I do think, mind you, there are certain things one needs to know if one desperately loves the musical, as I do: Read more... )

It was actually awfully cool to watch it after reading the book.In which I rave and rant about the musical and the book and the movie and things that made no sense in the musical/movie and things I liked MORE in the musical/movie )

I could talk about this movie forever, but in conclusion: LOVE.
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-Why did no-one tell me that the voice of Quasimodo in Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame is Tom Hulce, who played Mozart in Amadeus? Did everyone else know this but me? It's... a weird mental image in my mind, now.

-The Murder at the Vicarage (Agatha Christie) is, I think, not one of the better Christies, but the one thing that made it hilarious to me was that one of the characters is a mysterious "Mrs. Lestrange." I spent the entire book, whenever she showed up, inventing ways to reconcile the character with Bellatrix Lestrange. (Alas, she did not, in fact, turn out to be a sociopath Death Eater. But that would have been awesome!)

-Tangled is a much more entertaining movie if you watch it thinking of a sort-of alternate Eugenides (from the Megan Whalen Turner books) as the main male character. (I know i'm not the first to think this. Still.)

-I was rereading Tam Lin, which I adore (I blame it for leading me to believe everyone in college spouted random Greek and Shakespeare -- turns out, not so much for physics majors), for various nefarious reasons. I think when I first read it, in high school, I might have found the college sex hijinks vaguely titillating. This time around, I was all "OMG ARE YOU PEOPLE SERIOUSLY NOT USING CONDOMS AND USING HERBAL TEA BIRTH CONTROL WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?" Okay, yes, it's set in the 1970's when people didn't worry about HIV, but still! I was rather amused by my change in reaction over the last twenty years (as well as slightly appalled that it wasn't my reaction as a teenager :) )
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It's getting near the end of February, so I thought I'd do another overheard-in-our-household quiz thingie -- some version of all of these quotes were spoken in our household during the month of February. Books and movies both are fair game, with one from a musical. Frighteningly enough, more of the quotations are not from books than are, which is really Just Wrong, but oh well. I'll do an update to this post on Monday with the answers.

1. 'You're altogether too full of bobance and bounce and high spirits. You've got to learn that life isn't all fricasseed frogs and eel pie.'

2. "Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life."

3. "He lay there like a slug. It was his only defense."

4. "Well, I'm back."

5. Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her;
If you can bounce high, bounce for her too,
Till she cry “Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover,
I must have you!”

6. Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...
Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
Marty DiBergi: I don't know.
Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.

7. Don't squeeze your bosoms against the chair, dear! It'll stunt their growth, and then where would you be?

ETA: Answers here. )
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Music: I heard Giuliano Carmignola playing the one of the Mozart violin concertos on the radio and was totally wowed -- it completely changed the way I thought about the Mozart violin concertos.

TV: Deep Space Nine. Oh, yeah, it's got the shiny happy Star Trek thing going, but it surprisingly... doesn't suck. Abigail Nussbaum talks about how it is actually kind of made of awesome, especially compared to other ST's and BSG.

Movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part I). I seriously loved this movie. A lot. (Even if I hadn't, well, it was the only movie I watched this year.)

Book (fiction): I read a lot of fiction books this year, both good and bad. Nothing that made my Favorite Books of All Time list, but some good ones I liked quite a bit. Ones that stick out: Demon's Covenant (Brennan) for solid YA; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Diaz) for edgy meaningful SF; This House of Brede (Godden) for thoughtful comfort read (except for one bit which is extraordinarily not comforting) -- this is the book this year I'm most likely to actually buy to own.

Also, The Merlin Conspiracy (Diana Wynne Jones) wins a Special Prize for Being Exactly What I Needed to Read When Suffering from Labor and from Post-Partum Lack-of-Sleep Delirium. I should probably reread it to see if it holds up as being as good as I remember, given that I was, um, not in my normal frame of mind when I read it.

Book (series): Daniel Abraham's Long Price quartet. I haven't liked an adult epic fantasy so well since... well, for quite a while.

Book (nonfiction): Checklist Manifesto (Gawande). Catapulted onto my "everyone needs to read this RIGHT NOW!" list.

Reread: Folk of the Fringe (Card) and The Dispossessed (LeGuin). Both were in my memory as okay, but on reread blew me away with how good they were.
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Music: Iphigenie en Tauride (Gluck; Gardiner recording). For some reason this opera stole my heart, even though my French really isn't good enough to understand what they're saying, and I don't really like any other Gluck as much. I think a large part is the Gardiner recording being just so... orchestral; the orchestra is practically another character in the opera.

Movie: The Ring Cycle (Bayreuth). Up. Up was the best movie I'd seen in a movie theater since... since the Incredibles. The Ring Cycle was one of Those Things where I don't expect anyone else to like it necessarily, but... wow. Wow. Blew me away.

Book (fiction): Interpreter of Maladies (Jhumpa Lahiri). Yeah. Lahiri is just Really Good.

Book (nonfiction): I, Asimov / Prime Obsession (Derbyshire) - a tie! Asimov wins for extremely amusing and readable memoir, while Derbyshire wins for interesting math.

Reread: The Severed Wasp (L'Engle) - Really, I think this is L'Engle's best non-Murry book.

I am really surprised that there is no SF/F on this list (I don't count Severed Wasp, even though it arguably takes place in a near-future NY).
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In rough ascending order as to how excited I am about it. It is weird, yes, that I was way more excited about movies than books this year. It was a great year for music.

Books (first read, fiction): The King Must Die and Bull from the Sea (Mary Renault); Hmm. I think this means it was not a good year for books for me. At least for transcedental experiences of books, as I read tons and tons of books I liked very much (thanks, flist!!). But there was nothing this year of the level where I start talking madly about it to every random person I meet (whereas both movies, below, fell into that category).

Reread: Sayers' translation of the Inferno, which is still fabulous, and definitely has the most fabulous notes/introduction out there, and, who knew, is apparently the perfect airport layover book (well, for me; I'm warped that way) when ill and frustrated.

Book series: Kage Baker's Company series :) The Antonia Forest Marlow series probably should also make an appearance here, but doesn't, because they are so bleepingly hard to find, so I've only read the first book, which in my brain doesn't really count as a series.

Books (first read, nonfiction): Galen Rowell's photography books. The man could take pictures AND write! Honorable mention to Tony Sweet's photography books, which are beautiful and inspiring, more so than many beautiful photography books.

TV: Veronica Mars season 3 (which, of course, I watched mostly in DVD form). Yeah, some things sucked about it, but Veronica Mars sucking is better than most TV shows ever get. And I loved it anyway because Veronica has grown and matured so very much since season 1, and the end broke my heart. Not least because the ending eps melded all I loved about season 1 with the richer, more mature Veronica of season 3, and just when it was getting good they canceled it. WAH.

Movies: Stranger than Fiction and A Man for All Seasons, in two very different ways... and, on the other hand, in some very similar ways as well; they're both about what it means to be human, and what essential parts of being human can't be given up, and what makes greatness. A good year for me movie-watching-wise.

Music: Rene Jacobs' version of Mozart's Nozze di Figaro, which won out with flying colors in a long and grueling comparison of all the Figaros out there. Mozart, in general, sweeps 2007! Chandos Opera in English. Vivaldi's Gloria recorded by Alessandrini (completely changed the way I think of the Gloria).
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Okay, I have a couple of rants in the queue (Robin Hobb, Bookswim, random thoughts on rereading Riddlemaster) but I must interrupt those because I just finished watching Stranger than Fiction, which everyone told me was So Good and which I was skeptical of. (With reason. Usually when everyone tells me a movie is So Good, I don't agree-- Shakespeare in Love and Amelie fell into this category-- I mean, they were fine, but they weren't all that.) Well, this time everyone was right. It really was all that.

I realize everyone else in the world has already seen this movie, but I shall rant about it anyway. It's a bit like Adaptation (I know, everyone's already made that comparison as well) in that it's about blurring the lines between fiction and reality. But I hated Adaptation; I thought it was the biggest waste of my time; and I loved Stranger than Fiction.

Adaptation tried very, very hard to be clever, to impress me with its intellectualism. It was always drawing attention to how smart and cool it was. The net result was that it utterly failed to capture me, and when "moving" things started to happen I was confused and thought it was another clever trick, and thus utterly failed to be moved. Stranger than Fiction didn't try at all to be clever, and rarely drew any attention to itself. It tried to be intelligent and thoughtful, and succeeded. It, like all good/great literature, wanted to say something about life and the people who live it and the choices they have to make and how they change as a consequence of and/or as a response to making those choices. And it did. And it touched me.

I can't say it any better than it was said here (no plot spoilers, but substantial spoilers for one scene), which was what convinced me to watch it. Fortunately I read the link so long ago that I'd forgotten everything she said before I watched it.

...I think movies try way too often to be clever, and that really turns me off.


Oct. 4th, 2007 12:12 pm
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So I don't think any of you were planning on seeing the film version of The Dark is Rising, but if you were, could I ask you to stay away? Or at least don't go see it opening weekend? This is one of my treasured childhood icons that's being trashed here...

Also, in case my plea doesn't move you, I read a bunch of reviews and no one likes it anyway, plus which I understand that it is now very much like Harry Potter, so you could just rent the latest Harry Potter movie instead.
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I watched Bridge to Terabithia the other day, and I had horribly mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I thought it did a great many things very well, like really capture, viscerally, what grade school was like, ugh. I'd forgotten how... horrible it was. And it did retain some nice things on father-child relationships and the power of imagination, even if it did feel the need to bludgeon once in a while-- which the book never does. Of course the book did all these things much, much better, but since it had access to Jess' internal monologues, which the movie didn't have at all, I'll give them some credit for that. And the animations, which I was prepared to hate, were really not badly done.

On the other hand, they messed up my favorite scene, the "Lord, boy, don't be a fool." In general, the Aarons became much less white-trashy, which was one of the beauties of the book. My most serious problem, though, was that Leslie was a flipping Mary Sue, complete with a beautiful face, terribly cute perfectly coiffed blond hair, an impish way of speaking every single line, and eyeshadow, for crying out loud. I mean, I understand the necessity for film makeup, but good grief, she looked like I would expect Elizabeth Wakefield from Sweet Valley Twins to look, not Leslie Burke.

I thought, "I remember Leslie being more of a tomboy sort... not very pretty even... and I don't remember the blond hair. Or the makeup. And I really don't think she was impish all the time." I actually went and looked it up, and in fact, Leslie has "jagged" brown hair. And May Belle was also kind of a Mary Sue in a younger, cuter, adorable sort of way.

Also? I believed Jess was an artist in the book because of the way he talked about art in his internal monologues, especially when he talked about the things he wanted to do with paint. Seeing the pictures in the movie? Someone had better talk this kid out of being an artist, fast.

But in general I kind of wish I hadn't watched the movie, because I liked my internal pictures better... on the other hand, I am the last person to object to a more-or-less competent retelling of a book story, as the TV version (remember that, anyone?) is how I found the book in the first place! However... all this has bolstered my opinion that one should never read a book one loves, ideally, the year before watching the movie adaptation; you're just asking to hate the movie that way. (I hadn't read the book for years and years, which saved this movie for me.)
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1. Driving anywhere else in the US, including commuting in northern California, does not prepare one for the free-for-all that is Southern California Driving.

2. BBC-Pride and Prejudice is still just as wonderful as it was when J forcefed it to me five years ago, and stunningly is still wonderful right after one has read the book (this is possibly the only time I've ever said this in my life)

3. Re Pan's Labyrinth: I don't do well with thriller/suspense movies, unless given a) ample warning of violent scenes so I can hide behind the table/a blanket/D/Kid, and b) spoilers as to whether a particular character is going to die so that I can stop worrying. (Weirdly, I cared very much about two fairly minor characters, but was not so worried about whether the main characters lived or died or whatever.)


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